100 best posters on show in Berlin

The best posters of 2016

Beuys criticising capitalism

Under the slogan "das kapital. schuld - territorium - utopie" ('capital. guilt-territory-utopia'), an exhibition in Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin focused last year on works by Joseph Beuys that he created in the 1970's. He didn't place money, but the creative potential of people at the center of economic thinking - along the lines of "art = capital."

The best posters of 2016

War in front of your door

In his exhibition "This Day At Ten," Lebanese artist Akram Zaatari describes how he survived the war in Lebanon in 1982. The 16-year old decided to depict the war between Israel and his home country with pictures and tape recordings taken from his parents' home. This collection was on show from May to July 2016 in Kunsthaus Zurich.

The best posters of 2016


"Listening" was the title of an event series over seven days in Berlin by choreographer Sasha Waltz, focusing on current crises. Alternating with her dance piece "Continu," conversation rounds were held on the topics film, literature and political participation attended by artists, journalists, politicians and human rights activists.

The best posters of 2016

Wide awake

Cola wakes you up, cola with extra caffeine even more so. With its billboard series, the Hamburg-based beverage company "fritz-kola" ended up among winners of the 100 best posters of 2016 in the German-speaking world. It's quite rare that representatives of the advertising industry are among the winners.

The best posters of 2016

Dangerous weapon

Friedrich Dürrenmatt's work "The Physicists" combines humor and fear. The drama focuses on a discovery that was so powerful that it could destroy the entire world. In his work, the author raised doubts about the responsibility of scientists. The theater play premiered in Zurich in 1962. At the beginning of 2017, it was presented in the state theater of Mainz.

The best posters of 2016

Not a one-sided matter

With this devilish greeting, the poster made it into the top 100 posters. Its special feature is that it is printed on both sides. On the front, there is a visualization of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's "Faust," whereas the entire text of the tragedy is printed on the back.

The best posters of 2016

Abstract comic art

The poster printed with fluorescent colors promotes the yearly Comics Festival in the French city of Aix-en-Provence. It's the work of Berlin-based graphic artist and comics designer Henning Wagenbreth. The use of bright colors and the design with numerous abstract mythical creatures is typical of Wagenbreth's style.

The best posters of 2016

Beyond welcome

"Beyond Welcome" is the title of a poster series promoting an event series with the same title that took place in Berlin last year. Apart from its publicity purpose, the posters were also intended as a thought-provoking impulse to stir debate in several languages on the problems of refugees in Germany.

The best posters of 2016

A formal affair

This poster entitled "Neighbors" was created by Timo Lenzen of Frankfurt. In cooperation with an initiative of designers and artists, the North Norwegian Center for Design and Architecture called on people to create posters on the topic of "shape." Lenzen's contribution was quickly picked out as one of the best 100 of 2016.

The best posters of 2016

A quarter of a century plus five

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of "PAGE Magazine for Media Design," Swiss artist Josh Schaub created a cover illustrating seemingly randomly placed information about the number 30, while also presenting an arithmetic problem to the viewers. Over the last few years, his posters - which always include artistic and informative aspects - reached the top 100 selection several times.

The 100 best posters produced in German-speaking countries for publicity, commercials and ads are on show at Berlin's Kulturforum. That's important, as the poster as an art form has come under threat from social media.

Since the end of the 19th century, we have encountered posters almost daily at public locations. Most of them have been hung up for promoting exhibitions, concerts, a beverage or a political party. But as digitalization rapidly continues, posters, billboards and placards are coming increasingly under threat as a means of advertising.

Ads in social networks have proven to be more effective, more long-lived and a lot cheaper - and yet posters continue to be a popular mass medium.

Election campaign posters like this recent one from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia are often boring

Many are true works of art, some are simple, some extravagant, some abstract and some realistic. The 100 best posters of 2016 from German-speaking countries are now on show from June 16 through July 2 in the foyer of Berlin's Kulturforum at Potsdamer Platz. In cooperation with the association "100 Beste Plakate e.V.," the art library of Berlin's state museums now presents the selection for the eleventh time. It was chosen by an independent jury whose composition changes annually.

Is this art form becoming extinct?

Five jury members picked the 100 winners from more than 2000 works submitted by 632 artists from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In the view of the head of the jury,  Alain Le Quernec, all exemplars had an artistic quality. One needs to distinguish between advertising and graphic design posters, he explained in an interview with the Kettler publishing house: "These are different worlds which have different values and rules."

This cigarette ad may be more of an eye-catcher

The French expert doesn't rule out the possibility that advertising, commercials and other means of communication will soon make the poster medium redundant. He refused to make any prediction for the future, however, while underlining: "This medium will continue to be around as long as young artists find it attractive, and as long as the demand continues to be there."

Competing with tradition

Following its premiere in the German capital, the exhibition will move to the cities of Essen, Nuremberg, Lucerne, Zurich, Vienna and La Chaux-de-Fonds. On the occasion of the exhibition opening, Kettler published an almanac containing reproductions of the 100 winning exemplars. The poster competition was initiated 50 years ago in former East Germany. After reunification in 1989, it was continued across all of Germany, while Austria and Switzerland joined in 2001.

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